Wild Bunch has acquired worldwide rights, excluding Asia and North America, to 3D CG-animated feature Yona Yona Penguin, which is being directed by Japanese anime master Rintaro.

Japanese animation studio Madhouse Inc and Paris-based Denis Friedman Productions are co-producing the film which is scheduled for release in Japan in December 2008. Shochiku will handle Japanese distribution and Hong Kong-based Golden Network Asia is handling Asian sales.

'After working with Mamoru Oshii, Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Leiji Matsumoto, we are honoured to be able to distribute Rintaro who we all discovered when we were kids and addicted to Captain Harlock,' said Wild Bunch head Vincent Maraval.

The film, which has a below-the-line budget of around $12m, tells the story of a little girl who gets sucked into a fantasy world populated by goblins who believe that their saviour will be a penguin.

According to Friedman and Madhouse producer Tony S. Izumi, the film will take Japan's unique style of 2D anime and place it in a 3D environment. It marks the first 3D animated feature for Madhouse which is world-renowned for its 2D animations such as Animatrix, Metropolis, Highlander, The Girl Who Lept Through Time and Paprika.

'This is the first time in the history of feature animation that Japanese creativity will be associated with the French know-how in terms of CGI,' said Friedman.

Rintaro (aka Shigeyuki Hayashi) established his career in the 1970s as one of Japan's leading TV anime directors and has since worked mostly on moviess, including Metropolis and Galaxy Express 999.